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Title:
RAPID-CONNECT COUPLER WITH VENT STOP
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/176312
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A rapid connect coupler including a housing, a probe (215) configured to translate within the housing, a handle (130A) assembly configured to cause the probe (215) to translate within the housing body, a stop assembly configured to selectively arrest the translation of the probe, the stop assembly including a pawl (520) configured to occupy both an active position and an inactive position, wherein the inactive position arrests the translation of the probe (215); a catch (510) fixed to the housing and configured to hold the probe (215) in the inactive position; a lever (501) configured to engage the pawl (520); a spring (502) fixed to both the housing and the lever (501) and configured to bias the pawl (520) to the inactive position via the lever (501); and a cam (530) configured to disengage the pawl (520) from the catch (510) and cause the pawl (520) to occupy the active position.

Inventors:
KONISHI, Howard, M. (13211 Adair Creek Way N.E, Redmond, WA, 98053, US)
Application Number:
US2016/029538
Publication Date:
November 03, 2016
Filing Date:
April 27, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ENGINEERED CONTROLS INTERNATIONAL, LLC (100 Rego Drive, Elon, NC, 27244, US)
International Classes:
F16L37/12; F16L37/36
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012129340A22012-09-27
WO2003095883A12003-11-20
Foreign References:
US20140261741A12014-09-18
US5429155A1995-07-04
US9194524B22015-11-24
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCDONOUGH, Thomas, C. et al. (Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLPTwo North LaSalle Street, Suite 170, Chicago IL, 60602, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A coupler for connecting a fluid holding tank to a receptacle, the coupler comprising: a housing;

a probe configured to translate in a longitudinal direction within the housing;

a handle assembly configured to cause the probe to translate within the housing, wherein the handle assembly is movable between a first position corresponding to a decoupled position where the fluid holding tank is disconnected from the receptacle and a second position corresponding to a coupled position where the fluid holding tank is connected to the receptacle and a third position corresponding to a venting position where the fluid holding tank is connected to the receptacle and venting of fluid is enabled; and

a stop assembly configured to selectively arrest the translation of the probe in a first translation direction when the handle assembly is moved from the second position to the third position.

2. The coupler of claim 1, wherein the stop assembly is configured to arrest the translation of the probe by providing a hard stop for the probe in the first translation direction.

3. The coupler of claim 2, wherein the stop assembly is configured to enable translation of the probe in a second probe translation direction, opposite the first translation direction, when the hard stop is provided.

4. The coupler of claim 2, wherein the stop assembly is configured to be in an active position where the stop assembly provides the hard stop to the probe, and an inactive position.

5. The coupler of claim 4, wherein the stop assembly further comprises a spring configured to bias the stop assembly to the active position.

6. The coupler of claim 3, wherein the stop assembly comprises a pawl that is rotatable between an active position where at least one surface of the pawl is configured to engage the probe serve as the hard stop and an inactive position.

7. The coupler of claim 6, wherein the stop assembly further comprises a lever configured to actuate the pawl.

8. The coupler of claim 7, wherein the lever is directly coupled to a spring to bias the pawl to the inactive position.

9. The coupler of claim 6, wherein the stop assembly further comprises a catch configured to hold the pawl in the inactive position.

10. The coupler of claim 9, wherein the stop assembly further comprises a pin fixed to the pawl, the pin is configured to directly engage the catch, and the pawl is asymmetrical.

1 1. The coupler of claim 9, wherein the catch is configured to hold the stop assembly in the active position by providing a holding force against the pawl.

12. The coupler of claim 11, where the stop assembly further comprises a reset cam, and the reset cam is configured to release the pawl from the holding force of the catch.

13. The coupler of claim 12, wherein the reset cam is fixed to the probe such that the reset cam translates with the probe.

14. The coupler of claim 13, further comprising a plurality of radially translatable retaining objects configured to bind the coupler to the receptacle.

15. The coupler of claim 14, further comprising:

a slidable sleeve configured to cause radial translation of the retaining objects;

a poppet and a valve seat inside of the probe, the poppet configured to translate with respect to the probe.

16. The coupler of claim 1, wherein the stop assembly further comprises a reset cam.

17. The coupler of claim 7, wherein the stop assembly is configured such that the spring biases the stop assembly to the active position via the lever.

18. The coupler of claim 10, wherein the catch is configured to engage two opposing ends of the pin.

19. The coupler of claim 18, wherein the catch is configured to straddle a lever and the lever is configured to rotate the pawl.

20. A rapid-connect coupler comprising:

a housing body;

a probe configured to translate within the housing body;

a plurality of retaining objects;

a slidable sleeve configured to cause radial translation of the plurality of retaining objects with respect to the housing body;

a poppet and a valve seat located inside of the probe, the poppet configured to translate with respect to the probe;

a handle assembly configured to cause the probe to translate within the housing body; and a stop assembly configured to selectively arrest the translation of the probe, the stop assembly including:

a pawl configured to occupy both an active position and an inactive position, wherein the inactive position arrests the translation of the probe;

a catch fixed to the housing body and configured to hold the probe in the inactive position;

a lever configured to engage the pawl; a spring fixed to both the housing body and the lever and configured to bias the pawl to the inactive position via the lever; and

a cam configured to disengage the pawl from the catch and cause the pawl to occupy the active position.

Description:
RAPID-CONNECT COUPLER WITH VENT STOP

PRIORITY

[0001] This patent application claims priority to U.S. Non-provisional Patent Application No. 15/140,01 1, filed on April 27, 2016, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/153,399, filed on April 27, 2015. These applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] This disclosure generally relates to a rapid-connect coupler configured to deliver cold fluid to a receptacle (e.g., a fuel tank).

BACKGROUND

[0003] Cold fluids at cryogenic temperatures (e.g., less than -150° C) pose special handling problems, principally because the temperature of such fluids may quickly cool any valve or coupler through which they flow. When such a coupler is used to transfer a cryogenic fluid, freeze-up problems may occur if the transfer takes place in a moist or high-humidity environment. Water within or immediately outside of the coupler may freeze, thereby impeding subsequent movement of mechanical parts within the coupler. Successive transfers from a single coupler to multiple receptacles may compound the problem.

[0004] Additionally, when de-coupling a coupler and receptacle, some amount of fluid venting to ambient is necessary. If the vented fluid is at high pressure, the venting may cause the coupler to forcefully eject from the receptacle. SUMMARY

[0005] This application is defined by the appended claims. The description summarizes aspects of the embodiments and should not be used to limit the claims. Other implementations are contemplated in accordance with the techniques described herein, as will be apparent upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description, and such implementations are intended to be within the scope of this application.

[0006] An embodiment of the present disclosure provides a rapid-connect coupler including a vent stop assembly that includes a release lever, release spring, latch pawl, latch spring, catch, and reset cam. The latch pawl may be configured to engage with a probe flange of a probe to implement a hard stop of the probe translating within the rapid-connect coupler. The catch may be configured to hold the latch pawl in an "up" position.

[0007] According to some embodiments, a rapid-connect coupler including a housing body, a probe, a handle assembly, and a stop vent assembly is disclosed. The probe may be configured to translate within the housing body. The handle assembly may be coupled to the housing body and the probe, and the handle assembly may be configured to cause the probe to translate within the housing body. The stop vent assembly may be configured to enable the rapid-connect coupler to transition from a decoupled configuration to a coupled configuration without a hard stop, and configured to enable the rapid-connect coupler to transition to a venting configuration between transitioning from the decoupled configuration to the coupled configuration.

[0008] The rapid-connect coupler may further include a vent stop apparatus configured to allow a coupling head of the rapid-connect coupler to transition from a decoupled configuration to a coupled configuration without obstruction. The vent stop apparatus may further be configured to provide a hard-stop at a venting position as the coupling head transitions from the coupled configuration to the decoupled configuration.

[0009] According to some embodiments, a rapid connect coupler consistent with the present disclosure may include a housing, a probe configured to translate within the housing, retaining obj ects, a slideable sleeve configured to cause radial translation of the retaining objects, a poppet and a valve seat located inside of the probe, the poppet configured to translate with respect to the probe, a handle assembly configured to cause the probe to translate within the housing body, a stop assembly configured to selectively arrest the translation of the probe. The stop assembly can include: a pawl configured to occupy both an active position and an inactive position, wherein the inactive position arrests the translation of the probe; a catch fixed to the housing and configured to hold the probe in the inactive position; a lever configured to engage the pawl; a spring fixed to both the housing and the lever and configured to bias the pawl to the inactive position via the lever; and a cam configured to disengage the pawl from the catch and cause the pawl to occupy the active position.

[0010] According to some embodiments, a rapid connect coupler consistent with the present disclosure includes a housing; a probe configured to translate in a longitudinal direction within the housing; a handle assembly configured to cause the probe to translate within the housing, wherein the handle assembly is movable between a first position corresponding to a decoupled position where the fluid holding tank is disconnected from the receptacle and a second position corresponding to a coupled position where the fluid holding tank is connected to the receptacle and a third position corresponding to a venting position where the fluid holding tank is connected to the receptacle and venting of fluid is enabled; and a stop assembly configured to selectively arrest the translation of the probe in a first translation direction when the handle assembly is moved from the second position to the third position.

[0011] According to additional embodiments, a rapid connect coupler consistent with the present disclosure includes a housing body; a probe configured to translate within the housing body; a plurality of retaining obj ects; a slidable sleeve configured to cause radial translation of the plurality of retaining objects with respect to the housing body; a poppet and a valve seat located inside of the probe, the poppet configured to translate with respect to the probe; a handle assembly configured to cause the probe to translate within the housing body; and a stop assembly configured to selectively arrest the translation of the probe, the stop assembly including: a pawl configured to occupy both an active position and an inactive position, wherein the inactive position arrests the translation of the probe; a catch fixed to the housing body and configured to hold the probe in the inactive position; a lever configured to engage the pawl; a spring fixed to both the housing body and the lever and configured to bias the pawl to the inactive position via the lever; and a cam configured to disengage the pawl from the catch and cause the pawl to occupy the active position.

[0012] For a better understanding of the disclosure, reference may be made to embodiments shown in the drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, and related elements may be omitted so as to emphasize and clearly illustrate the novel features described herein. In addition, system components can be variously arranged, as known in the art. In the figures, like referenced numerals may refer to like parts throughout the different figures unless otherwise specified. It should be understood that for clarity in certain cross-sectional views, certain elements are not shown in cross-section, as doing so would not assist in the understanding of the invention. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] Figure 1 is a top view of a rapid-connect coupler, depicting three handle positions.

[0014] Figure 2 is a top cross-sectional view of the rapid-connect coupler of Figure 1.

[0015] Figure 3 is a top cross-sectional view of the rapid-connect coupler of Figure 1 with the handles in a second position.

[0016] Figure 4 is a side cross-sectional view of the rapid-connect coupler of Figure 1 and an exemplary receptacle.

[0017] Figure 5 is a cross-sectional side view of the rapid-connect coupler of Figure 1 along 5-5 of Figure 1 with the handles in a first position.

[0018] Figure 6 is a cross-sectional side view similar to Figure 5 with the handles in the second position.

[0019] Figure 7 is a cross-sectional side view similar to Figure 5 with the handles in a third position and with a stop in a first position.

[0020] Figure 8 is a cross-sectional side view similar to Figure 7 with the stop in a second position.

[0021] Figure 9 is a cross-sectional view of a coupling head of the rapid-connect coupler of Figure 1 showing details of retaining balls.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0022] While the features, methods, devices, and systems described herein may be embodied in various forms, there are shown in the drawings, and will hereinafter be described, some exemplary and non-limiting embodiments. Not all of the depicted components described in this disclosure may be required, however, and some implementations may include additional, different, or fewer components from those expressly described in this disclosure. Variations in the arrangement and type of the components may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the claims as set forth herein. As stated above, it should be understood that for clarity in certain cross-sectional views, certain elements are not shown in cross-section, as doing so would not assist in the understanding of the invention.

[0023] Fig. 1 is a top view of a rapid-connect coupler 100 having a coupler head section 101 and a coupler body section 102. The components of rapid-connect coupler 100 may be considered to be part of a first structure and/or a second structure, wherein component(s) of the first structure and the second structure are configured to move relative to each other as further described herein. The first structure may include a sleeve 205, one or more drive pins 210, and a probe assembly 215, which includes a coupling end 220. The one or more drive pins 210 extend though a respective drive slot 140 defined in a ball cage 225. The drive pins 210 link the sleeve 205 to the probe assembly 215. In various embodiments, the drive pins 210 are fixed to the probe assembly 215 via opposing retaining rings 655a and 655b. As shown In Figure 2, the retaining rings 655a and 655b compress against an outer circumference of the probe assembly 215. The second structure includes the ball cage 225 defining a coupling orifice 230 and including one or more balls 245.

[0024] A first poppet assembly 235 resides within coupling orifice 230 and may be biased by a poppet assembly spring 280. The first poppet assembly 235 further comprises a retainer 240 and a seal assembly 260. The second structure may further include one or more guide pins 250, and a housing barrel 255. In an embodiment, the one or more guide pins 250 center probe assembly 215 along the longitudinal central axis of housing barrel 255. Additionally, in an embodiment, the second structure, or portions thereof, may be removable and configured for easy and swift removal and replacement, which may be required due to damage or maintenance needs. Certain portions of the design described herein are similar to that disclosed in commonly owned U.S. Patent No. 9, 194,524, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

[0025] Rapid-connect coupler 100 further includes a first handle 130A and a second handle 130B. Fig. 1 illustrates the positions of the first handle 130A and the second handle 130B in three different configurations of rapid-connect coupler 100: (1) configuration A corresponds to a decoupled state of rapid-connect coupler 100; (2) configuration B corresponds to a coupled state of rapid-connect coupler 100; and (3) configuration C corresponds to a semi-coupled state of rapid-connect coupler 100 that enables venting. As discussed below, a vent stop assembly is configured to provide a hard stop in configuration C.

[0026] Fig. 2 is a top cross-sectional view of the rapid-connect coupler 100 in configuration A when handles 130A and 130B are pulled all or substantially all the way back away from coupler head section 101. Handles 13 OA and 130B are rotatably coupled to housing barrel 255 via a first barrel flange 270A and a second barrel flange 270B. Additionally, a first link assembly 275A and a second link assembly 275B are rotatably attached to first handle 130A and second handle 130B, respectively. The first link assembly 275A and second link assembly 275B are also rotatably attached to probe assembly 215. More specifically, one end of each link assembly 275 may be fixed to a handle 130. The other end of each link assembly 275 may be fixed the probe assembly 215 via a base 605. In some embodiments, the base 605 is directly attached to the probe assembly 215. In other embodiments, the base 605 is fixed to the probe assembly 215 via a compressive force delivered by a ring 610.

[0027] As handles 13 OA and 130B rotate, enabling the rapid-connect coupler 100 to transition between the A and B configurations, the first structure longitudinally translates relative to the second structure along the central axis X. More specifically, rotation of handles 130A and 13 OB from their positions in configuration A to their positions in configuration B delivers longitudinal force to probe assembly 215, via link assemblies 275. This longitudinal force opposes a counter-biasing force of probe spring 265, enabling longitudinal translation of probe assembly 215 in housing barrel 255. Sleeve 205 longitudinally translates with probe assembly 215 by virtue of drive pins 210. In Fig. 2, sleeve 205 is longitudinally retracted with respect to ball cage 225. In Fig. 3, sleeve 205 is longitudinally extended with respect to ball cage 225. One end of probe spring 265 may rest on spring seat 625, which is fixed to flange 290. Flange 290 is described in detail below. The other end of probe spring 265 may rest against spring stop 620, which is fixed to housing barrel 255 via pins, screws, or bolts 615.

[0028] Fig. 4 is a side cross-sectional view of a rapid-connect coupler 100 and a fueling receptacle 400 aligned along a central axis X. The fueling receptacle 400 comprises a coupling body 410, which includes a lip 420, and a recess 425 behind lip 420. The coupling body 410 defines a second poppet orifice 430. A second poppet assembly 440 is disposed within second poppet orifice 430 and is biased closed by spring 450.

[0029] Rapid-connect coupler 100 is configured to couple with fueling receptacle 400. Referring to Fig. 4, coupling body 410 slides into first coupling orifice 230, enabling retainer 240 to slide into second poppet orifice 230. As retainer 240 slides into second poppet orifice 230, spring seal 260 seals against an inner diameter of coupling body 410. Additionally, first poppet assembly 235 bears against second poppet assembly 440. Force from second poppet assembly 440 opposes counter-biasing force of spring 280, enabling first poppet assembly 235 to longitudinally translate until reaching a hard stop 650 (labeled in Fig. 9). When first poppet assembly 235 longitudinally translates, sealing surface 640 of poppet assembly 235 retreats from valve seat 645 of retainer 240. Fluid may now flow from coupling end 220, through probe assembly 215, and into second poppet orifice 430.

[0030] Once first poppet assembly 235 bears against hard stop 650 (labeled in Fig. 9), first poppet assembly 235 transfers enhanced longitudinal force to second poppet assembly 440. The enhanced force opposes a counter-biasing force of spring 450 and enables second poppet assembly 440 to longitudinally retreat from a valve seat (not shown). It should be appreciated that second poppet assembly 440 may operate according to the same general principles as first poppet assembly 235.

[0031] In configuration A, when coupling body 410 is received within first coupling orifice 230, the lip 420 pushes the one or more balls 245 radially outward in their slots 910 (see Fig. 9) until lip 420 longitudinally translates past the balls 245. A user then engages configuration B, as shown in Fig. 3. In configuration B, sleeve 205 covers the slots 910, which locks balls 245 into a recess 425 behind lip 420 Coupling body 410 is now locked within first coupling orifice 230.

[0032] In configuration B, the second poppet assembly 440 and the first poppet assembly 235 may be operable to enable fluid flow from the rapid-connect coupler 100 into coupling body 410. As discussed above, seal 260 seals against the interior circumference of the coupling body 410 within the second poppet orifice 430. In an embodiment the seal assembly 260 is a two piece seal including an energizing spring.

[0033] When the rapid-connect coupler 100 is released from fueling receptacle 400, fluid (e.g. liquid natural gas), may vent from rapid-connect coupler 100 as the connection with fueling receptacle 400 is broken. The fluid vents through slots 635 in receptacle 400 and slots 630 in coupler 100. In some embodiments, venting occurs when seal 260 longitudinally retreats past slots 635, thus exposing second poppet orifice 430 to ambient atmosphere. [0034] It is desirable to allow rapid-connect coupler 100 to vent before rapid-connect coupler 100 is fully disengaged from fueling receptacle 400 because venting can generate a substantial propulsive force on one or more of the coupler 100 and the receptacle 400. In an embodiment, the rapid-connect coupler 100 applies a positive stop in configuration C, which enables the rapid- connect coupler 100 to vent before it is fully disengaged from fueling receptacle 400.

[0035] Fig. 7 shows configuration C of rapid-connect coupler 100. In general terms, probe assembly 215 hard stops against edge 523. In this position, sleeve 205 covers the balls 245 (and more specifically, the ball slots 910). As a result, sleeve 205 presses balls 245 into groove 425. Receptacle 400 cannot detach from coupler 100 in this position. The poppet assemblies no longer touch and therefore close. Further, seal 260 has longitudinally retreated behind venting slots 635, enabling venting of fluid from orifice 430 to ambient via venting slots 635 and 630.

[0036] After venting has been completed, a user may actuate the vent stop assembly to fully retract probe assembly 215 (and therefore sleeve 205). Now lip 420 exerts a radial force on balls 245, causing balls 245 to radially translate and disengage from groove 425. Once this has occurred, the user may retract coupler 100 from receptacle 400. In various embodiments, the balls 245 are spherical, made of a metal, and sized for an interference fit within slots 910. The spherical shape of the balls 245 advantageously release from grooves 425 more efficiently than other shapes. Also, spherical balls 245 tend to release ice efficiently.

[0037] As discussed above, rapid-connect coupler 100 is configured to generate a positive stop at configuration C via a vent stop assembly. Fig. 5 depicts the vent stop assembly and also shows the rapid-connect coupler 100 in the decoupled state corresponding to configuration A. The vent stop assembly includes a release lever 501, a lever spring 502, a lever spring connector 503, a latch pawl 520, a catch 510, a latch pin 522, and reset cam 530. Release lever 501, lever spring connector 503, catch 510, and latch pawl 520, may be attached, either directly or indirectly, to housing barrel 255, while reset cam 530 may be attached to probe assembly 215. In various embodiments, one end of the lever spring 502 directly attaches to release lever 501 and another end of lever spring 502 directly attaches to lever spring connector 503, which is fixed to housing barrel 255.

[0038] Latch pawl 520 is rotatably mounted on rod 521 and is rotatable between a "down" position where its front edge 523 engages with probe flange 290 to provide the hard stop that arrests translation of probe assembly 215 at configuration C, as shown in Fig. 7, and an "up" position where latch pawl 520 is clear of probe flange 290, as shown in Fig. 5. As described below, reset cam 530 acts to reset latch pawl 520 from its "up" position to the "down" position when handles 130A, 130B are moved from configuration A to configuration B. In the depicted embodiment, latch pawl 520 is biased down towards probe assembly 215 due to the downward biasing force of release lever 501 and/or lever spring 502.

[0039] When rapid-connect coupler 100 is in configuration A, as illustrated in Fig. 5, latch pawl 520 is retained in the "up" position by frictional forces between latch pawl 520 and catch 510. Such frictional forces provide an upward holding force that may be greater than, or equal to, the downward biasing forces being exerted on the latch pawl 520 by one or more of the rod 521 and release lever 501. Latch pawl 520 does not engage with probe flange 290 while latch pawl 520 is being held in this "up" position by catch 510.

[0040] As illustrated in Figs. 1 and 5, latch pin 522 is fixed to latch pawl 520 and may be integrally formed with latch pawl 520. Latch pin 522 transversely extends beyond the outer sides of latch pawl 520. In Fig. 5, for example, latch pin 522 extends into and out of the page. This enables latch pin 522 to engage both sides of catch 510 (Fig. 1 shows the two sides of catch 510) without contacting latch pawl 520 directly. This advantageously reduces wear on latch pawl 520 and clears room for lever 501 to engage latch pawl.

[0041] Alternatively, according to some embodiments, latch pawl 520 may be configured to include a top opening (not illustrated) having latch pin 522 extending across it such that latch pawl 520 may be configured to engage latch pin 522 through the top opening without contacting latch pawl 520 directly.

[0042] By configuring catch 510 to hold latch pawl 520 in the "up" position, the front edge 523 of latch pawl 520 does not contact probe flange 290 as probe assembly 215 translates forward towards coupler head section 101 as rapid-connect coupler 100 transitions from configuration A (i.e., the decoupled state) to configuration B (i.e., coupled state). The angled shape of latch pawl 520 also aids in preventing a hard stop of probe assembly 215 during such movement.

[0043] Reset cam 530 translates with probe assembly 215 and begins engagement with latch pawl 520 as rapid-connect coupler 100 transitions to configuration B, as shown in Fig. 6. In configuration B, rapid-connect coupler 100 is coupled to, for example, fueling receptacle 400 as illustrated in Fig. 4. As discussed above, coupler 100 is configured to flow fluid to receptacle 400 in configuration B.

[0044] As rapid-connect coupler 100 transitions from configuration A to configuration B, handles 130A and 130B rotate toward coupler head section 101. The forward rotation of handles 130A and 130B rotates links 275, thus longitudinally translating probe assembly 215 from within housing barrel 255 into a coupled engagement with fueling receptacle 400. The translation of probe assembly 215 causes reset cam 530 to translate forward to engage latch pawl 520. By engaging latch pawl 520, reset cam 530 releases latch pawl 520 from its up position and rotates latch pawl 520 to its "down" position (shown in Fig. 6). After being reset by reset cam 530, latch pawl 520 is biased to its down position by one or more of the release lever 501 and/or lever spring 502.

[0045] When handles 130A and 130B rotate away from coupler head section 101, rapid- connect coupler 100 transitions from configuration B to configuration C, which is shown in Fig. 7. The transition of handles 130A and 130B further causes the translation of probe assembly 215 back into second housing barrel 255 until probe flange 290 contacts latch pawl 520. Following the release of the latch pawl 520 from the "up" position to the "down" position in configuration B, latch pawl 520 is now in place to contact probe flange 290, as shown in Fig. 7. As described above, latch pawl 520 provides a hard stop that prevents probe assembly 215 from further retreating within housing barrel 255. As described above, this keeps coupler 100 and receptacle 400 locked together by virtue of balls 245 and sleeve 205.

[0046] Latch pawl 520 may be released from its hard stop engagement with probe flange 290 via release lever 501. The user may release latch pawl 520 after proper venting has been accomplished. Fig. 8 illustrates rapid-connect coupler 100 following the release of the hard stop provided by latch pawl 520 engaging with probe flange 290. Handles 130A and 130B may continue to occupy their configuration C positions. A downward force on the opposing end of release lever 501 releases latch pawl 520 releases from the hard stop. More specifically, the downward force on the opposing end of release lever 501 causes the other end of release lever 501 to lift or rotate latch pawl 520 toward the catch 510. As described above, the spring 502 may bias release lever 501 to the position shown in Fig. 7. In various embodiments, the release lever 501 pivots about the attachment point between the spring 502 and the release lever 501. [0047] If a part in the coupler 100 becomes stuck due to freezing, it may be necessary to longitudinally agitate (i.e., push and pull) rapid-connect coupler 100 to fully de-couple from fueling receptacle 400. More specifically, a user may need to apply force to handles 130 until the ice breaks and the probe assembly 215 is free to move. In these cases, it may be advantageous or necessary to eliminate the hard stop provided by pawl 520. Catch 510 is configured to provide sufficient upward holding force (e.g., frictional force) on latch pawl 520 in order to keep latch pawl 520 in the "up" position while the rapid-connect coupler is being agitated. By using catch 510 to help maintain the latch pawl 520 in the "up" position, the risk of latch pawl 520 falling down and re-engaging with probe flange 290 to provide the hard stop as rapid-connect coupler 100 is being agitated back and forth may be reduced, or even eliminated.

[0048] Typically a user will understand the rapid-connect coupler 100 needs to be longitudinally agitated following the completion of a venting process when coupler 100 is in configuration C of Fig. 7. The user may now apply release lever 501 to release the latch pawl 520 from the hard stop position into the "up" position shown in Fig. 8. More specifically, after realizing a need for the rapid-connect coupler 100 to be longitudinally agitated, the user may longitudinally agitate the rapid-connect coupler 100 while catch 510 holds latch pawl 520 in the "up" position. During longitudinally agitation of rapid-connect coupler 100, catch 510 is configured to keep latch pawl 520 in the "up" position.

[0049] Additionally, in some embodiments as depicted in Fig. 9, it may be desirable for the balls 245 to be disposed within tapered slot 910A and tapered slot 910B, which are defined by tapered wall 920A and tapered wall 920B, respectively. For example, tapered slots 91 OA, 910B may be concave toward the external and internal portions of the ball cage 225. Tapered slots 910A, 910B may be desirable because the tapered slots 910A, 910B tend to release ice more efficiently, which may form within the tapered slots 910A, 910B when cold temperatures are present (e.g., when using a cooled gas such as liquid natural gas or in cold environmental conditions). The tapered walls 920A, 920B may be of various configurations and types of tapers, including linear tapers or curved tapers, and the entirety of the tapered slots 91 OA, 91 OB may or may not include a taper. In various embodiments, the balls 245 are made from a metal and sized for a dimensional interference fit inside the tapered slots 910.

[0050] The balls 245 are further sized to protrude from the slots 910 in the radial direction. More specifically, the sleeve 105 causes the balls 245 to radially protrude from an inner circumference of ball cage 225. When sleeve 105 does not cover slots 910, lip 420 causes the balls to radially protrude from an outer circumference of ball cage 225. In Fig. 9, ball 245B outwardly radially protrudes from outer circumference B of ball cage 225 to distance A. The outer most point of ball 245B now radially extends a distance A - B from ball cage 225. In Fig. 9, ball 245A inwardly radially protrudes from inner circumference D of ball cage 225 to a distance C. The inner most point of ball 245A now radially extends a distance C - D from ball cage 225. In some embodiments, gravity may cause balls 245 to occupy the positions shown in Fig. 9. In other embodiments, the dimensional interference fit is too tight for gravity to radially translate the balls 245.

[0051] It should be noted that in the description and drawings, like or substantially similar elements may be labeled with the same reference numerals. However, sometimes these elements may be labeled with differing numbers or serial numbers in cases where such labeling facilitates a more clear description. Additionally, the drawings set forth herein are not necessarily drawn to scale, and in some instances proportions may have been exaggerated to more clearly depict certain features. As stated above, this specification is intended to be taken as a whole and interpreted in accordance with the principles of the invention as taught herein and understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.

[0052] While specific embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and alternatives to those details could be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure. Accordingly, the particular arrangements disclosed are meant to be illustrative only and not limiting as to the scope of the invention which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims and any equivalent thereof.